Japanese women could be "safer" at night by wearing vending-machine disguises

A Japanese designer has proposed that women alone could walk in greater safety (though, in reality, Japanese crime levels are in decline, despite national anxiety to the contrary) by disguising themselves as vending machines:
Deftly, Ms. Tsukioka, a 29-year-old experimental fashion designer, lifted a flap on her skirt to reveal a large sheet of cloth printed in bright red with a soft drink logo partly visible. By holding the sheet open and stepping to the side of the road, she showed how a woman walking alone could elude pursuers – by disguising herself as a vending machine.

The wearer hides behind the sheet, printed with an actual-size photo of a vending machine. Ms. Tsukioka’s clothing is still in development, but she already has several versions, including one that unfolds from a kimono and a deluxe model with four sides for more complete camouflaging.

Link (Thanks, MeaningOfLife!)


  1. Sure, and at night, does the sheet light up?

    Hiding behind a sheet means you can’t see them coming.

    If buying something makes you feel safer, then for the cost of that sheet, why not buy some mace spray, or an airhorn, or something?

  2. tht’s nt hw thngs r dn n jpn. pltnss nd scl dcrm r vry mprtnt. slly rpst wll sk pltly fr cnsnsl sx nd thn f dclnd, wll bw 3 tms bfr cmmttng rp.

    cnfrntng crmnl s cnsdrd rd by scl stndrds nd wll drv yr vrg jpns t cmmt sppk (wth thr hll ktty fld t knvs dsgsd t lk lk hnd grnd)

    thrfr t s mr plt t llw th crmnl t “sv fc” by bng “trckd” by th dsgs. ths r sbtl sn cltrl dsyncrss w’ll nvr ndrstnd bcs th st s s xxxxxtc nd s qrrrrky

  3. I can’t help but have the image of a wannabe criminal looking around confusedly as a vending machine tip-toes past behind him, like a cartoon character disguised as a tree.

  4. Ms. Tsukioka, a 29-year-old experimental fashion designer,“… for the famous ACME design firm, known previously for the devlopment of earthquake pills, personal rockets, and coyote-sized slingshots “ has proposed that women….

  5. Better have a coin slot and bring cold sodas with you to dispense in case someone decides to try you out… Seems like a long way to go out on a limb for this. You’d have to have sufficient lead time to change also or the disguise would be worthless. Seems quite cumbersome for running if discovered. I have to agree with Mark Zero. If this is as Alphabunny suggests, it seems like something out of a Terry Gilliam film: Ridiculous but taken seriously by a society gone nuts. Wouldn’t it be just as useful to don a Godzilla (Gojira) suit to make criminals laugh too hard to mess with you? Make sure whatever it looks like it has lots of padding inside for when they decide to push you down and kick you on the ground for trying such a silly deception…

  6. where can I get one of these ???? I reckon – taking into account the IQ of the average street robber, that it might just work……Unless they decided to blag the vending machine instead …..on 2nd thoughts maybe not..

  7. This looks like yet another work of Chindōgu, the Japanese art of useless inventions. It makes me really happy this sort of thing not only exists, but it’s popular enough to have a name and a history.

  8. Excuse me, but if there’s a need for that sort of thing, I think women would do better to stay home or go out in groups.

  9. What would the world do without the most ludicrous among us: the Japanese?

    Are you sure this isn’t some industrialized meets 3rd-world burka?

    David B.

  10. Thank you boing boing for more japan-so-wacky bullcrap…

    Been there for 4 years, never locked my Audi… never got stolen (unfortunatly shall I add). Meanwhile the night I didn’t close the window before a typhoon was a costly one… (crappy design of the windows control buttons on the armrest… If you use it to lift up when exiting the car you inadvertantly push some of them half of the time and open the windows of the passenger side)

    Can we have a categorisation of the posts ? I come here for the steampunk links. Not for these kind of crap that made me run away from digg….

  11. Trick or treat? Interesting how most seem to miss the point of this brilliant fashion statement/social commentary/performance art prank piece. Happy Halloween!

  12. This would have worked 40 years ago before Japanese hunters and developers killed off the white-footed vending machine in its natural habitat. These days, seeing a vending machine walking around would just be weird.

  13. I think there’s been a mistranslation somewhere. This is to do with the Japanese bendi-ecchi (ベンディエッチ from the Japanese words for vending machine and sex) sub-culture, young men who have an attraction to, and sometimes have sex with, vending machines. Being Japanese, they tidy up after themselves afterwards, so there’s virtually no risk of contamination to other, more normal, users of these machines. Still, many realise that their prediliction is not socially acceptable and seek treatment. This treatment usually involves familiarisation with human women, in the early stages often dressed as vending machines, hence the costume pictured.

    Really, this spoof news item and the remarks about “raping” vending machines are cruel mockery to those afflicted with, and attempting to deal with, this difficult condition. You should be ashamed.

  14. It’s interesting that the article talks abut the cultural differences of how the Japanese and westerners view self-defense (which I’m fairly sure is BS), when I see one very striking similarity: They both have a market that creates anxiety about nonexistent problems then capitalizes on that anxiety to sell things that would do no good in that situation for which they are prescribed.

    Remember when duct tape was practically selling out at hardware stores?

  15. Although I don’t think this post is especially guilty of this, the thing that tires me, as a longtime resident of Japan, is when one crazy person in a country of around 150million does something weird it gets reported to the English speaking world as, “Japan (does something weird)!” It’s a pretty normal place over here, with normal people who have normal lives.

  16. I know, I know, Japan isn’t actually full of robots, cute mascots, and cyborg hentai ninjas, and has plenty of normal people going to normal stores, schools, and post offices just like we do…

    But I still maintain that when someone in Japan does something weird… It’s still weirder than when someone in the US does something weird.

  17. The artist, Aya Tsukioka, created this vending machine disguise in her student days as an artwork project long ago in 2001. In other words, this vending machine disguise was created more than six years ago, long before Japan’s so-called “crime boom.” Ms. Tsukioka is doing a great PR job recycling her 15 minutes of fame but…She-e-e-it, it was not designed as an anti-crime device.

    See my reports from 2005 and 2007:

  18. So, if that thing doesn’t give me a soda, and I kick it on the side, shake it a bit, and try to get my change back, I can be arrested for attempted rape?

  19. Well at least it’s coke machine and not one that sells used panties. That would be a bit awkward when your would-be rapist decides to insert some money and you have take off your panties and give them to him.

    Of course a vending machine shimming and shaking before dispensing the goods would look right in place in a Bettie Boop cartoon.

  20. @12, yeah, and I hate steampunk. I just skip over all those articles. maybe you could do that same with posts like this…

  21. I fully expect to have friends back in the states ask me if this sort of thing is really common over here.

    It’s just art. Silly, inventive, conceptual art. Nobody will *ever* wear one of these with the idea of protecting themselves from non-existant crime.

    I cringe whenever I read the words “All the rage in Japan…,” knowing that people are going to latch on to those silly, oddball concepts and use them as a basis for their image of Japan.

    It’s a bit as though Japanese were reporting that westerners commonly keep crucifixes in jars of urine.

  22. @33 Jim O’Connell:

    Indeed. Most of the things I’ve read about in the English-language press I’ve never actually seen over here. Sometimes I’ve even looked for them, to no avail.

    The rages in Japan:

    1) Cellphones.

    2) Brand goods (Prada, Louis Vuitton, etc.)

    3) The flavor of the month that for some reason takes off from every store and snack company all at once as if there was actually a meeting among all the foodstuff companies where they decided the next big push. It was mango for awhile; now it seems to be “salty caramel,” which I am finding is quite good, especially Tully’s’ (the American coffee chain) “Salty Caramel Latte.”

    These rages have been going since at least the bubble economy, and don’t seem to be slowing down.

  23. @33 Jim O’Connell:

    You mean we don’t? I better go pour mine out…

    As for flavours-of-the month, when I was last in Japan (1991), it was tiramisu – which even existed as (deeply troubling) toothpaste. They seemed to be coming out of a blueberry phase, as well…

  24. “vn slss thngs cn b sfl”. Lk ths ttlly slss rtcl n th Nw Yrk Tms s sfl n mkng m fl srry fr jrnlsm.

  25. … and it only took 31 posts until someone mentioned the soiled panty vending machines. I’ve lived in Japan for quite some time and visit ever now and then and I have never seen one of those. And I’ve been in places where good women should not go, I’ve seen schoolgirl prostitutes and sleazy old men entertaining enjo-kosai-girls but really never soiled panty vending machines.

    There are many, many vending machines in Japan, and most of them sell drinks (hot or cold), some sell rice (5 kg or 10 kg), some eggs, some pantyhose (unworn, I might add), but the soiled panty thing is really something you can probably only get in sex shops, which is where you can get stuff of that kind in your country, too.

  26. Face it, you ‘Japanese aren’t weird’ folks… dried squid is a popular snack in Japan. ’nuff said.

  27. And beef jerky is better than dried squid because …?
    Your “weird” is someone elses “normal”.
    My Japanese friends run away screaming when I’m cooking pasta with creamy gorgonzola sauce, yet the same people manage to eat natto (use google, look it up) with a raw egg for breakfast.
    If you’d look beyond your own nose you can find plenty weird stuff outside – and isn’t that what makes life wonderful?
    I’m actually wondering: Would the artist date the guy who takes a picture of a vending machine every day? http://jihan.sblo.jp/

  28. Vertigo25 said it well: In both Japan and the US (and in just about everywhere else), scare stories about crime and terrorism make people think irrationally. And we get more scare stories than ones that talk about the real risks people face and reasonable ways to minimize them. As I said on Taking Care of Ourselves, cute costumes are fun, but they aren’t practical self defense.


    Th ghst f lvs Prsly hs prpsd tht hmstrs ln cld wlk n grtr sfty (thgh, n rlty, rdnt crm lvls r n dcln, dspt th Lch Ns Mnstr’s pnn t th cntrry) by dsgsng thmslvs s hcky pcks.

    Ths s tr bcs sd t nd m wrtr, nd my dtr hs n d wht bng n dtr mns.

    G Nw Yrk Tms! Sn y wll scp th Ntnl nqrr!

  30. I’m pretty sure it’s art, and art commenting on the fear-mongering caused by excessive media coverage of crime. The connection to Halloween probably doesn’t hurt the publicity value.

    And what’s wrong with dried squid? It’s tasty, and certainly no weirder than cut-up pieces of dried cow (aka beef jerky).

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